Why Madrid is the best city for expats
Read this article to learn why Madrid is the best city for expats and what it has to offer in terms of lifestyle and investment opportunities.
Spain has been a popular expat destination for years. The main reason is the excellent quality of life it offers. The international bank HSBC has a yearly league table that ranks countries on a number of factors such as quality of life, ease of settling in, physical and mental well being, average income, job prospects and quality of schools. In 2019, Spain jumped 14 spots in this league table. It is currently ranked the fourth best country in the world for expats. Much of this comes from its quality of life ranking- it ranked the highest among all countries in the survey. It also ranked #1 for Physical & mental well-being. It ranked second for “Little expats” and third for Quality of life.
Spain also ranked highly for a favorable work/life balance: it came in third in this category.
Excellent health care system
Although not mentioned specifically in the HSBC league tables, Spain has one of the best healthcare systems in the world. Bloomberg recently ranked it the most efficient healthcare system in Europe.
Anyone that contributes to the Spanish social security system receives access to the public healthcare system for themselves and their families. Alternatively, there are a number of reasonably priced private healthcare options that many people avail themselves of.
Long life expectancy
The excellent work/life balance and healthcare system mean that Spaniards live a long time. The average life expectancy for women in Spain is 86 years and for men it is 81 years. This means its citizens have the sixth longest life expectancy in the world. This is five years longer than Americans can expect to live.
Amazing restaurants and wine
Spain now has more top rated restaurants than anywhere in the world. San Sebastián crowns its culinary scene: the city boasts 18 Michelin starred restaurants within a 25 kilometer radius. Contrary to popular thinking, most new and innovative cooking techniques come from Spain, not France. Moreover, it is Europe’s biggest producer of wine and olive oil. Not to mention the large crops of fresh fruits and vegetables it produces. This not only makes for excellent meals in restaurants, but food in the grocery stores is usually seasonal, locally produced and of very high quality.
Great for kids
Spain is a very child friendly country. Kids are welcome in restaurants and at gatherings such as weddings. In fact, it is fair to say that most Spaniards dote on their children and grandchildren. HSBC’s league tables ranked it second for Learning and making friends.
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Why Madrid is the best city for expats
Madrid is the capital city of Spain, so residents enjoy all the above benefits from living in the country. But there are many benefits associated with living in Madrid that make it an even more appealing city for expats.
Many beautiful parks and gardens
The city is filled with beautifully landscaped parks and gardens. The most famous is the Retiro. You can go for a stroll, a picnic, rent a boat or even see art in the Crystal Palace and Casa de las Vacas, both of which regularly house exhibitions by the Reina Sofia Museum.
Further north is the Quinta de los Molinos, which is filled with cherry blossoms in the spring. Its cherry trees were a gift from Japan. To the west is the Parque del Oeste with its beautiful rose garden. To the south is Madrid Rio, which is filled with playgrounds and activities for kids.
Diverse, high quality restaurants
Although it lacks the diversity of London, New York or Tokyo, Madrid is developing an increasingly diverse restaurant scene. You can find sushi, trendy hamburger restaurants (the sort that have popped up all over New York and London), good quality Mexican food, authentic Chinese food in Usera (Madrid’s China town) and a smattering of Italian, Indian and even Thai restaurants. Although if you like spicy food, we recommend doing your research as the Spanish palate typically tends towards milder flavors.
Low cost of living
One of Spain’s greatest selling points is its relatively low cost of living. Many people wish to retire in Western Europe, but assume the costs are prohibitively expensive. The truth is, Spain has a relatively low cost of living. In fact, it is cheaper than Costa Rica and only a bit more expensive than Panama. Plus you have the advantage of living in a highly walkable, elegant European capital filled with art and culture. This is why Money Magazine recently rated it one of the top 10 cities in the world in which to retire.
Art & Culture
If you enjoy fine art, Madrid is definitely your best city for expats. It is home to the big three: The Prado (classical art), the Reina Sofia (modern art) and the Thyssen Collection. The Thyssen Collection, situated in a former palacio and financed by the Thyssen family, is an extremely well curated collection of fine art from the 13th to the late 18th centuries. Moreover, many of the art world’s biggest exhibitions (particularly those that pertain to fashion and jewelry) are shown here.
Madrid also has smaller collections, such as the lovely Sorolla Muesum, housed in the artist’s former home and atelier.
Excellent selection of activities for kids
As mentioned earlier, Spaniards often dote on their children. Because of this, and the long working days typical of Madrileños, there is an excellent variety of kids activites, including summer and holiday camps, on offer.
“Becoming an expat Mum changes your perspective of Madrid. Having children integrates you into the community in a unique way as doors open, attitudes change and a family-friendly city reveals itself. This is a city where children are never considered a nuisance; in fact they are cherished (look out for old ladies giving your children sweets in the street!). Yet Madrid also works for so many families on practical levels that are essential for busy parents.”
It is close to the mountains and the beach
No matter what type of holiday you like, it is easily accessible from Madrid. Most people don’t know this, but Spain is the second most mountainous country in the world (not counting micro-states) after Switzerland. There is good skiing a short drive north of Madrid. In fact, many expats have houses in the foothills of the mountains to the north. If you like the beach, you can take a high speed train to Valencia in an hour and twenty minutes.
Well connected transportation hub
If you want to travel within Spain or southern Europe, Spain has one of the best rail systems in the world. It is the second largest rail system (after China) and its trains run as fast as the bullet trains in Japan.
Travelers to the rest of the world will enjoy flying out of Barajas. You can find cheap flights to almost anywhere in Europe. There are frequent flights to South America and regular service to Dubai, the Far East and the United States.
Everyone knows about the sunny southern coast of Spain. However, what most people don’t realize is that Madrid has a very moderate, seasonal climate. If you like to experience the change of seasons, but nothing too extreme, Madrid is an excellent option. The winters are cool, but not so much that you need to purchase a hat or heavy down coat. Spring and autumns are heavenly. Summers can be hot, but the air is dry and the city is filled with swimming pools and shaded terraces. If you get too hot you can always take a short drive up to the mountains to cool off.
Attractively priced real estate
Real estate prices trended up in 2017 and 2018 as the city attracted more foreign investment and tourists. Prices are stabilizing at higher rates as the market evolves and the apartment stock is upgraded. Even with these higher prices, you can still get a lot more for your dollar that in other European capitals. Plus, it is still a city for renters, as opposed to buyers. This not only makes it one of the healthiest property markets in Europe, but it is an ideal city to purchase an investment property.
Did you know that if you purchase a property for 500k€ or more, you are entitled to Spanish residency for you and your family? This is an excellent option for expats that want to relocate to an elegant European capital. To learn more about why Madrid is the best city for expats, and to find your ideal Madrid property, BOOK A FREE CONSULTATION TODAY.